(the son of our dear former neighbors completed suicide and I was given the honor of speaking at his celebration of life. Oh how I love Steve who is now “healed in heaven”, his mom and dad, brother and sister so much. As I wrote and painfully delivered these words my heart was feeling the great heartache of all involved. yet………
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. Thessalonians 4:13-14
I feel so connected to the Narup family and to Steve for our families have shared so many highs and lows together. For over 12 years the Narups lived next door to my young family in Country walk community and we literally shared a backyard. A rainbow playground set became the kids meeting place as well as the court behind our homes. My three children and Stef. Steve and Jon and the other neighborhood children built forts on that Rainbow jungle gym. They played Red Rover, kick the can, dodge ball and so many fun outside games. The hill connecting the Narup home and our OBrien home became the perfect sledding area as the children held onto each other and laughed and shouted as they raced down the hill together. They laughed and played and sometimes squabbled. Most times, they were more like siblings than neighbors. Since my children were younger and needed more supervision, I was often outside and sometimes would guide them with conflict resolution. OK so What happened ? so What should you have done? What should you do now? You could say you’re sorry and that you’ll never do that again….ok now its your turn ….you can Say I forgive you and both of you hug or shake hands ….now go on and play and never bring up what happened again. The children would say they were sorry and forgive so quickly and completely and then proceed to play together as if the offence never happened……you know I think that might be one of the reasons why it says in the Bible that we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of God.
Steve had such a kind heart and definitely took on a big brother role with the younger children. During my children’s birthday parties, sometimes he would help led a game station, I watched as Steve patiently helped and encouraged the younger children and then proudly give then a prize. Later, I watched that same kind and gentle heart grow even larger as he so enjoyed being a dad to his daughter Madison. He was the middle child who so adored His older beautiful and vivacious sister Stef and so cherished his younger brother Jon who is so bright and creative. He was so loved and cared for by his mom and dad who faithfully supported him as he grew and gained confidence socially and in his career. I could tell Steve was both an observer and a deep thinker. Three years ago he sent me one of the kindest birthday messages I have ever received. In it, he thanked me for my role in his life and his family and then he told me to “stay on the path”. I am still so touched every time I think about it: for he reached out to me with gratitude and encouraged me to stay on the narrow path…even though he himself was struggling and searching for his own path.
On Easter Day, he used up some of his last bit of energy to get to church and say He was sorry for his sins and receive the cleansing forgiveness of the sacrament of baptism. He publicly chose to be a follower of Jesus Christ who is the Way, the truth and the Life. He chose the path that leads to everlasting life.
I was recently reminded of the story of the two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus.
One of the men was an observer and a deep thinker and recognized Who Jesus was and despite being in great pain turned to Jesus. He said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
So this late convert who made the good choice…who chose to turn to Jesus while suffering, still physically died that bittersweet day.
He was not immediately rescued, and angels didn’t come to remove him from the cross that he bore.
But we know from God’s word that the man was spiritually reborn the moment that he turned to Jesus. He was completely forgiven, his wounds are now healed in heaven and he is suffering no longer.
And we trust that Steve is completely forgiven, Steve’s wounds are Healed in heaven and Steve is suffering no longer.
For God so loved Steve that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that if Steve believes in Him, He should Not perish but have everlasting life.
(for those of you who are hurting now with a broken heart and feeling left behind and perhaps angry or confused by it all ….. I believe Steve would say to you, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Will you please forgive me? “
And for those of you who, like me, feel a heavy weight of guilt and wish that you had done more for Steve or tried harder or perhaps you left some words unsaid, I believe Steve would say to you and me , “I forgive you, I always knew that you loved me. I love you and I am praying for you. I am praying that you will use every bit of energy that you have to find the path. For only God’s love can heal a broken heart.
And for those that have already found the One who is the Way and the truth and the Life …I believe Steve is now praying and patiently encouraging us as he echos out what all the angels and saints around God’s throne are saying as they are cheering us on: keep going forward, look upward ….. .and Stay on the path!!!!!! )